Four Questions about the Communist Manifesto

Letter to Editor:

Congratulations and thanks for your great website on the Communist Manifesto!

I did read The Manifesto, but couldn't understand the following:

1) "The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself." What were those “weapons”?

2) “The working men have no country. We cannot take from them what they have not got. since the proletariat must first of all acquire political supramacy, must rise to be the leading class of the nation, must constitute itself the nation, it is, so far, itself national, though not in the bourgeois sense of the word"? What do the authors mean here?

3) Also, what do they mean that “This talk about free selling and buying…have a meaning, if any, only in contrast with restricted selling and buying, with the fettered traders of the Middle Ages, but have no meaning when opposed to the Communist abolition of buying and selling”?

4) "It is well known how the monks wrote silly lives of Catholic saints over the manuscripts on which the classical works of ancient heathendom had been written. The German literati reversed this process with the profane French literature. They wrote their philosophical nonsense beneath the French original. For instance, beneath the French criticism of the economic functions of money, they wrote "alienation of humanity", and beneath the French criticism of the bourgeois state they wrote "dethronement of the category of the general", and so forth. The introduction of these philosophical phrases at the back of the French historical criticisms, they dubbed "Philosophy of Action", "True Socialism", "German Science of Socialism", "Philosophical Foundation of Socialism", and so on."

How the words "over" in italic, "beneath" and "back" could be perceived here? Also please describe briefly "alienation of humanity", "dethronement of the category of the general" and "Philosophy of Action".

Editorial Response:

1. The weapons are the industrial complex combined with finance and stock companies.

2. Marx believed that nationalism was a tool of the bourgeoisie, that all workers were brothers. Without the middle class the state would wither away and all workers would unite across borders.

3. According to Marx, if we were to resort to the Marxist philosophy of "From each according to his abilities, and for each according to his needs" then there would be no need for trade.

4. I don't remember reading this part. But it would not surprise me if Marx had written it. It sounds as if he is making fun of other German Economists by saying their work is derivative and pretty much worthless.

Remember, this document was meant as both a statement of principles and also a reaction to the politics of the moment. The fact is that Marx was largely wrong about most of what he predicted. He also did not take into account human nature, and the steadfast character of the "economic man". For an excellent critique of socialist/Marxist policies read The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents--The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek).

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